Category Archives: Music

Rasputin: Disco and 80’s Soviet Kitch

I was searching youtube for “Valentina Terechkova” – a 1998 video by Kraftwork homage band “Komputer”. I found this apparent mashup by Komputer – working as “I Start Counting” – of the Rawhide theme and a song about Rasputin:

Rah! Rah. Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen
That was a cat that really was gone.
Rah! Rah. Rasputin, Russia’s greatest love machine.
It was a shame how he carried on.

Thanks to my friend Jen, I found that the Rasputin passage was a European disco hit by Boney M. The group was particularly popular outside the West, and particularly in the Soviet Union, as the video for “Rasputin” attests:

Here is the video Valentina Terechkova I was originally looking for – The lyrics consist of Valentina Terechkova’s resume.

I’d only seen the song once before, possibly on the same MTV2 broadcast from which this video was captured. I must have gone back in part for the music, which is very much like Kraftwerk’s Pocket Calculator. The soviet kitsch is the main attractor. I always considered the Soviet Union as a bizarre parallel world, accessible through the evening news and segments of 60 Minutes. I would amuse myself as a kid considering the states of mind of children much like myself, and considered us as tabula rasas, picking up antagonistic or just unrelated cultural cues. We’d assimilate these influences, and grow to consume utterly different, but recognizably congruent cultural products. Like disco. Boney M bears this out.

Links:

Clip of British Sea Power performing “The Licorice Fields of Pontefract”

I had no idea about Sir John Betjeman prior to chasing down this ref to British Sea Power (the band).

Clip of British Sea Power performing “The Licorice Fields of Pontefract” on John Betjeman & Me, BBC2, then discussing their feelings for professional female volleyball players.

If you are sufficiently interested by the band to check out more of their music, here is the video that got to me with the puppets.

The “Easy! Easy! Easy!” chant is that of the British wrestler Big Daddy, btw. Headpress mag did an article on him once, disparaging him in language remincient of the scorn heaped on Hulk Hogan.  See and hear it here.

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